We were passengers on the December 2012 - January 2013 cruise on Silversea's Silver Cloud from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile. Upon arriving in our suite, we were immediately disappointed to learn that the scheduled port of call of Stanley in the Falkland Islands had been cancelled due to the Argentine government's enforcement of the so-called gaucho law. There was a pre-printed letter from the captain, and a revised shore excursion menu, as well as an offer of a $500 "gesture of goodwill" on a FUTURE cruise. We were informally advised by cruise staff that Silversea knew of the itinerary change at least a couple days prior to embarkation in Buenos Aires. Yet, Silversea made no effort to let us know of the change until we boarded, although they are perfectly capable of contacting us by E-mail with their repeated advertisements.
If we had known of the itinerary change even a day in advance of boarding, we could have used the high-speed Internet at our hotel in Buenos Aires to cancel our private guide in the Falklands, and try to research and schedule an alternative private guide in the substitute port. Yet Silversea seemed more interested in marketing their own shore excursions, and selling future cruises, than in informing passengers in advance of the changed itinerary, or accommodating the needs of those passengers who arrange private guides. I found it galling that Silversea would offer the $500 "goodwill" credit only on a future cruise, rather than the cruise then underway, since the harm was to the existing passengers on that cruise.
A senior staff member on the ship expressed surprise to me that the Silversea home office (in Ft. Lauderdale) had not E-mailed passengers about the changed itinerary. Due to the very poor Internet connections on the ship, we spent countless hours trying without success to arrange a guide at the substitute port, and had difficulty reaching the guide we had scheduled in the Falklands. Our arrangement with the Falklands private guide had been that if we cancelled less than 72 hours in advance, unless the port of call was cancelled due to weather, we would be liable for the pre-paid private shore excursion in Stanley. If Silversea had had the decency and common courtesy to notify us even a day in advance by E-mail, we would not have had a problem.
Rather than raise Cain on board, I promptly contacted our travel agent, asking him to in turn ask Silversea to at least apply the $500 credit to the then-current cruise. Silversea jerked our travel agent and us around for the duration of the cruise, and for 6 weeks thereafter, before declining our request, to the surprise of our travel agent, whose agency had been referring a large volume of business to Silversea. I might add that we had been on several Silversea cruises previously, and had never experienced such callous treatment from the cruise line. Do they really think they can treat us so poorly, and then expect us to take a future cruise with them, enticed by a $500 credit? You might say that Silversea is penny-wise and pound-foolish.
Aside from that disgusting outrage, some things on the cruise went well. It reminds me of the line, "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?" At any rate, the food was good, the dining room maitre-D (Jorge) and butler were outstanding, and the lecturers were interesting. On the other hand, the climate control in our suite was poor, either too cold, and then too warm, inasmuch as the thermostat was not effective in controlling the in-suite temperature. (I never had this problem on 15 previous luxury cruises, but this was my first time on the Silver Cloud per se.) The gym was too small for a work out (unlike the larger facilities on the Silver Shadow and Silver Whisper), and generally the ship seemed a bit shop-worn and aged, notwithstanding the recent purported refurbishment. The cruise director, Judy Abbot, was great, and the on-board entertainment was satisfactory. But the good points were outweighed by the ongoing jerked-around treatment we received from Silversea with respect to the untimely notification of the changed itinerary, and Silversea's indecision for several weeks and ultimate denial of our request to apply the $500 "goodwill" credit to that cruise. We had previously regarded Silversea as a competitive luxury cruise line, and had taken several Silversea cruises, but based on their callous treatment, I now hold them in the same regard as Costa and Carnival.